Thousand Year Reign

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The Thousand Year Reign

Rev 20:1-8

1 Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain.

2 He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years

3 and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time.

4 Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection.

6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over these; they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for (the) thousand years.

7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison.

8 He will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.

Greek and Latin etymology

The Greek expression for a thousand years is χιλια ετη. The letter "chi" in Greek has no exact equivalent in English, so it is sometimes rendered as "ch" (e.g., "Christ," chiliasm) and sometimes as a "k" (e.g., kilo, kilobyte, kilogram). The letter "X" also resembles the Greek chi and has been used in the Greek tradition as an abbreviation for Christ.

The Latin expression for a thousand years is mille annos. This has given us our word "millenium," meaning any thousand-year period in history and the words "millenialism" and "millenarianism."


Millenarianism is the belief that Christ will reign visibly on earth for 1000 years (a millenium) prior to the Final Judgment.

Catholic Encyclopedia, "Millenium and Millenarianism."
The fundamental idea of millenarianism, as understood by Christian writers, may be set forth as follows: At the end of time Christ will return in all His splendour to gather together the just, to annihilate hostile powers, and to found a glorious kingdom on earth for the enjoyment of the highest spiritual and material blessings; He Himself will reign as its king, and all the just, including the saints recalled to life, will participate in it. At the close of this kingdom the saints will enter heaven with Christ, while the wicked, who have also been resuscitated, will be condemned to eternal damnation. The duration of this glorious reign of Christ and His saints on earth, is frequently given as one thousand years. Hence it is commonly known as the "millennium", while the belief in the future realization of the kingdom is called "millenarianism" (or "chiliasm", from the Greek chilia ... ete [1000 years]).
The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Note for paragraph 676 quotes the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Decree of 19 July, 1944 (DS 3839), which says: "In recent times on several occasions this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been asked what must be thought of a system of mitigated millenarianism, which teaches, for example, that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world. The answer is: The system of mitigated millenarianism cannot be taught safely."
And in the fine catechism The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults (Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, R. Lawler, OFM Cap., and Thomas Lawler, eds., Our Sunday Visitor [1991]), we read, "Some people have mistakenly come to expect a Messianic kingdom in which Christ together with the saints would rule a temporal kingdom on earth for a thousand years (hence the term ‘millenarianism') before the final entrance into heaven. But such millenarianism is alien to the message of faith. The Church's teaching associates Christ's second coming proximately with the resurrection of the dead, with final judgment, and with the glory of His eternal kingdom" (469).

Millenarianism and Millenialism

Millenarianism (the belief that Christ will reign on earth for 1000 years before the Final Judgment) was a popular belief in the first century of Christianity. Millenialism is used to identify variations in New Testament interpretation since the 19th century.


This is a synonym for Millenarianism or Millenialism derived from the Greek word for "thousand", χίλιοι (chilioi or kilioi). "Kilo," of course, turns up in "kilogram," "kilometer," "kilobyte," and other units of measure.